Learn how to use a black tie optional wedding dress code, and how to style formal wedding attire for modern and classic looks.
Ironically, it’s not even the most formal wedding dress code option, but formal wedding attire does require some thought, effort, and the tying of a bow tie. The right outfit will look similar to what you’d wear for a black tie optional dress code, and because it’s better to be a little overdressed, a lot of our style advice is similar to what we’d advise for black tie weddings.
If you’re researching dress codes for your wedding, black tie optional or formal attire are good choices if you’d like to see most guests in tuxedos—and likely, the wedding party and groom too—but you’re not going to die on that hill.
WHAT DOES “FORMAL WEDDING ATTIRE” MEAN?
This wedding dress code requires either a tuxedo or a dark suit with black dress shoes. Also, try to avoid colorful shirts and neckwear—black and white is best, or at least dark colors (like navy) and simple patterns.
WHAT DOES “BLACK TIE OPTIONAL” MEAN?
Follow the black tie dress code if you can. Wear a simple tuxedo in black or midnight blue with black and white accessories (a white dress shirt, black bow tie, and black shoes). The “option” in black tie optional is for anyone who doesn’t own or have access to a tux, in which case you’d wear a dark formal suit (similar to a cocktail attire look).
Below, we’ll cover recommended attire for grooms, groomsmen, and wedding guests—in both modern and classic looks that fit the dress code.
Table of Contents
Black Tie Optional Attire
If you’ve decided on black tie optional for your wedding dress code (or formal attire) you’re probably planning to wear a tuxedo—it would be weird for the groom to wear a suit after basically asking guests to wear tuxedos. But it’s a good idea to choose between a modern tux or a classic look, and making that choice will help you plan for your wedding party.
The fabric of this dinner jacket look is a rich midnight blue with fine pin dot detailing. In spite of the big clothes horse energy, it’s very easy to wear and keeps the right amount of attention on the groom’s outfit. Let the jacket do all the work and stick to simple accessories and a black loafer for a modern look.
Yes‚ there’s a subtle pin dot pattern on both the pants and jacket of this tuxedo, but in every other way, this is a reserved, classic groom look. For the wedding party, go with the equally traditional peak lapel tuxedo—sans pin dot pattern.
Black Tie Optional Attire
for Wedding Parties
Like the groom’s outfit, stick to the formal end of black tie optional wedding attire when outfitting the wedding party. Don’t worry about too many tuxedos overshadowing the groom—they can still hold down the spotlight if you style everyone right.
Because this dress code is slightly more relaxed than black tie, we’ll also show you subtle ways you can use color in a formal wedding party look.
A black tie optional dress code usually means pretty limited color options, but midnight blue is one of the few exceptions. Believe it or not, midnight blue is a traditional tux color, and making this color part of your attire is a great way to shake up the black and white color scheme. Use our modern groom recommendation for a coordinated groom/groomsmen look.
When you stick to a traditional black tie optional look, you have more latitude to use color, but take it slow. Try one of your wedding colors on a pocket square. It’s just enough to notice, but not enough to be a distraction.
Black Tie Optional Attire
Prepping for a black tie optional wedding dress code should be fun, even when your only real responsibility is arriving before the processional. As a friend or family member of the hosts, only you know how much “fun” (that is, self-expression) they would be comfortable with. Use what you know to inform your choice.
This look includes a dinner jacket, which is on the less formal end of the spectrum (though still not as casual as a suit). Aside from the jacket, you might as well be wearing a tuxedo. It’s bold, but as long as the jacket color isn’t too bright or the pattern too loud—and you opt for black and white accessories—you’ll be fine.
If you think formal means formal, it probably does. In that case, take our classic formal attire suggestion below. You’ll notice classic doesn’t mean boring—because your look is mostly traditional, you can use accessories and a little color to give your tuxedo a unique and considered look.
The Right Fit for Your Wedding
Understanding dress codes can help you choose the right outfit, but it’s also important that the tux you choose actually fits you. That’s why we design tuxedos and suits with a better fit and a modern cut, and make it easy for everyone to show up looking their best to celebrate the big day.
If you’re planning your own wedding and need to make sure your look is perfect, check out the style and fit of our tuxedos from the comfort of home—for free. Start your home try-on here.
You can also visit us in-person, or answer a few questions to find your sizes, entirely online.